Category Archives: Education

Own Your Story

Life is full at the moment. In some ways I’m leading a double life. My weekdays are filled with a day job that I am very grateful for but I do not enjoy. The rest of my time is taken up immersed in my passion projects that I feel in the flow with, that I dream will lead to being able to further my purpose and be my living.

Some days it is really tough to get the balance right. Some days I find it difficult to focus on that part of my Story that matters to me most, to not get sucked into the daily grind of doing the work that gets the salary, that pays the bills.

And so, as seems a usual occurrence in my life, the universe puts messages in my way that help me navigate whatever difficulty I’m facing.

In the last couple of months there have been a lot of messages about Story. The importance of Story and Storytelling in our lives. The fact that our internal Story impacts the world around us – how we show up in society. So how do we own our Story in order to make the external impact one of hope, positivity, kindness and compassion?

I have shared the incredible work of Susan David PHD many times.
Her social media posts continue to provide inspiration nuggets like this one!

It seems to me that owning our Story is an act of Radical Self-Love. What is radical self-love? Meet Sonya Renee Taylor!

This podcast episode is a fantastic introduction to Sonya’s background and work.
Sonya the poet in her flow.

Having now read Sonya’s book The Body is Not an Apology, one of the key takeaways for me was that part of owning my Story would be owning my Body. This was an incredibly confronting concept for me! Warning: this will be very challenging for anyone who has struggled with feeling “not enough” and trying to reconcile your physical place in society!

Sonya’s affirmation exercises do seem to help. I feel like I’m slowly making progress with this part of owning my story. I love this quote from Sonya about stitching a new garment…

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature.

Sonya Renee Taylor

I read this quote from the legendary Brené Brown a number of years ago. These days I keep it close. I have found it comforting in this journey with Story and Storytelling.

If you haven’t read The Gifts of Imperfection, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy or try the audiobook narrated by the author.
Here’s a taster…

What about being a Storyteller and sharing Story externally? Well, along came this National Geographic Education course – Storytelling for Impact – so, of course, I signed up. I loved this course. I have always loved photographs and photography but this course really opened my eyes to the power of this medium to share Story.

Stories … protect us from chaos … Implicit in the extraordinary revival of storytelling is the possibility that we need stories — that they are a fundamental unit of knowledge, the foundation of memory, essential to the way we make sense of our lives: the beginning, middle and end of our personal and collective trajectories.”

Bill Buford, the former fiction editor of the New
Yorker, writes this in his essay, “The Seduction of
Story Telling”
Here’s an example of a photo that shares Story… in this image are elements of my Story past, present and future. I love that you can see my faint reflection taking the photo. What I also love is the idea that no matter my intention in sharing this particular image, you will interpret your own Story within this same image 🖤

Any photograph has multiple meanings; indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Now think — or rather feel, intuit — what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy

Susan Sontag, “On Photography

The last idea I want to share about Story and Storytelling in this post centres around using this power to build awareness and promote behaviour change for some of humanity’s big social and environmental issues.

Here are a couple of academic papers looking at the place of Storytelling as part of the solution for climate change:

Storytelling is Part of the Solution to the Climate Dilemma

Transforming the Stories we tell about climate change: from Issue to Action

The latest from Project Drawdown is putting this Storytelling into action. Climate Solutions 101. This online course is for everyone – super accessible, delve in as deeply as you want. It promotes hope for the future and is packed with individuals and groups Stories of actions that any one of us can take to be part of the solution for this – the dilemma of our time.

By owning Your Story,

you own Our Story 🖤

Sir Ken

A small tribute to a great man whose heroic voice has had a profound impact on me personally and professionally.

I was first introduced to Sir Ken Robinson by chance quite a few years ago now. Stumbling across his book Out of Our Minds: the power of being creative. The concepts he introduced me to in this book were game changing.

Then there was the TED talk Do Schools Kill Creativity? Nothing more to say here.  If you have not watched it yet, do.

I had the privilege of hearing him present as the keynote speaker at the Future Schools conference a few years ago. I have such a lasting impression of him not just presenting us with what was wrong in education but emphasising what we could all be doing to make it better. He was profoundly sincere in his advocacy for change at the same time as being incredibly witty – a killer combination!

His book Creative Schools completely transformed my teaching practice. The principles he lays out in this particular book continue to inform the dream projects I am working on in conservation and environmental education.  Most particularly where he says that “education is deeply personal”.

And from a personal perspective, his books with Lou Arnica, The Element: how finding your passion changes everything and Finding Your Element: how to discover your talents and passions and transform your life, have, as it says in the title, been life-changing… helping me tap into my creativity, passion and purpose.

His passing is a huge loss to the world. I am deeply grateful to have heard his message. My hope is that I can carry this message for bringing creativity forward and advocating for education reform with me on my journey. If others who were impacted as profoundly by his voice as I was do the same, what a legacy he leaves!

While it seems too soon to lose such a wonderful human being, I am glad he passed peacefully and surrounded by family. I hope they find peace in their grief.

Thank you, Sir Ken. Rest in Peace 🖤

August is for Elephants

I love elephants. These majestic beings know things about living on this earth…. the kinds of things I believe we have lost touch with in our mostly urban pursuits.

I have had the absolute privilege of sharing space with elephants. A couple of whom I have got to know quite well, I flatter myself.

They are as unique in character as we are. They have their good days and their bad just like us…. and I truly believe they have a sense of humour.

The photos above show one such ellie. A charming character who would share our Okavango Delta island a months each year while the marula fruit were around to enjoy. One day a tree came down over our office/storeroom scattering marula fruit throughout the little enclosed courtyard. As afternoon descended he approached the office, low rumbling to let us know he was there. Leaving me no time to vacate the office, he squeezed through a small gap between the buildings making his way into the little courtyard. He proceeded to find every single marula he could on the roof, on the ground, carefully maneuvering around this small enclosed space. After a half hour or so of foraging he made ready to leave through the same gap he had came through. This took him past the open office door where I was sitting quite still, overwhelmed by the moment. I hadn’t noticed the marula that had rolled on to the floor inside the office just a few feet from where I was sitting. He paused his head filling the door space. He lifted his trunk and sniffed, then turning his head slightly he gave a long look. It took probably just a moment but to me it was a MOMENT. Then quite calmly he pushed his whole head through the doorway into the office, reached out his trunk and took the marula fruit near my feet. A sideways movement to get his head back out the door, he took the gap between the buildings and melted into the twilight.

He was surrounded by humans and human structures that entire time. He knew we meant him no harm. He just wanted those delicious marula fruit.

I will remember that incredible moment as long as I live. A treasured memory I hold close.

To me a world without elephants is unthinkable. Unfortunately, they face ongoing challenges sharing a world with humanity.

Luckily I am not the only one who loves elephants. In fact, there is an incredible conservation collective who have dedicated their lives to elephant conservation.

This weekend on Saturday 8 August a first in elephant conservation is taking place – a virtual elephant collaring! From the comfort of your couch you can get a front row seat to experience what happens when elephant are fitted with radio collars to track their movement and gather valuable data to help in their protection and conservation. So exciting! I have booked my ticket! Will you?

Find all the information you need here – Virtual Elephant Collaring – this will let you know who is behind this awe-inspiring project, why it is necessary and how you can be a part of this world first! Get involved!

I don’t think that Carla from the Blue Sky Society, the brains behind this initiative, or Dr Michelle from Elephants Alive planned it this way but World Elephant Day is 12 August! Or perhaps they did. What a fitting way to celebrate all things elephant this year!

Conservation in Action

18 July…. Mandela Day. I love this quote from the great Madiba. For me, “others” includes all the living beings we share the planet with.

I am in the process of changing some website stuff around. Part of the master action list for Dream 1 in my dream tin 😊

I had not intended posting until the changes had been finalised. But an event is imminent that I just have to share.

If it weren’t for Covid-19, I would right this moment be road tripping my way across Botswana and South Africa on my way to Banhine National Park in Mozambique. The purpose of this journey to take part in a vital “boots on the ground” conservation mission to radio collar elephant – a journey with purpose.

While it is sad not to be able to embark on this adventure, I am so excited that the conservation collective – Elephants Alive, Wildlife Vets, Blue Sky Society and Painted Dog TV – behind this elephant conservation project are going ahead. On 8th August we can join them virtually!

From the comfort of home we can get a rare insight into what this work is like – what a conservation education opportunity!

I realise money is tight in the present circumstances. But a ticket for this once in a lifetime experience is not too dear. And the proceeds will allow elephant conservation of this kind to continue.

Here’s all the information you need:

Book tickets – https://www.quicket.co.za/events/105627-virtual-collaring/#/

Meet the amazing human behind this project – https://www.blueskysociety.org/

Follow Carla from Blue Sky Society on Facebook and Instagram

I’m in…. see you there 💙🐘💙

Joyful June

A new month, a new Action For Happiness calendar.

I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.